When it comes to maintaining good oral health, we all have special needs at different stages of our lives. Thanks to many advancements in dental technology, people are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever before. While that’s good news, it’s also true that the more years you keep your natural teeth, the more problems you are likely to experience. As we grow older, our teeth become more brittle and can crack or chip more easily. We also produce less saliva as we age, which can lead to dry mouth and that, in turn, increases the chance of developing tooth decay. Changes in hormone levels can lead to thinning of bone mass and tooth loss. For all those reasons and more, it’s particularly important for people over the age of 50 to take special precautions in order to maintain good oral health. Here are a few suggestions on how to do just that:
- Conquer dry mouth – One of the leading causes of oral health problems in people over 50 is dry mouth. Conquer this issue by reducing intake of salty foods and liquids that contribute to dry mouth – such as coffee and alcohol. Some medicines can cause dry mouth as well, so talk to your doctor about choosing medicines that are lesser contributors.
- Be diligent about your oral hygiene – As we age, our gums naturally recede. This can result in increased sensitivity and a higher chance of developing cavities. Address these issues by following a regular oral hygiene routine each and every day. Brush at least twice and floss at least once every day. Consider using an anti-gingivitis mouthwash to protect against gum disease, and an anti-sensitivity toothpaste to help reduce sensitivity.
- Replace missing teeth – If you are missing one or more teeth, talk to your dentist about ways to replace those teeth. If you don’t, you run the risk of experiencing bone loss in your jaw, and that can lead to even more tooth loss. There are several methods available for tooth replacement, such as implants, bridges, or partials. Talk to your dentist to determine which is best for you.
- Take care of your dentures – If you’ve already lost your natural teeth and wear dentures, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to focus on good oral health habits! Make sure you clean your dentures thoroughly each day using a high quality denture cleaner. Your dentures should be soaked in water when you’re not wearing them. Make sure that you keep your gums clean and free of debris. And if your dentures don’t fit properly, talk to your dentist right away. Poorly fitting dentures can lead to other issues, such as infection, so it’s important to have the issue corrected as quickly as possible.
As we age, maintaining healthy teeth and gums can be more challenging. Fortunately, all it requires is following a good oral hygiene routine and regular trips to your dentist, and you can enjoy good oral health throughout your golden years.
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